History of the Computers in Cells Project


21 April 2017 – Corrective Services NSW Responds to Community Justice Coalition Media Release:

From the SBS article“CSNSW said the importance of giving inmates access to computers for education and rehabilitation was recognised. ‘Under the prison bed expansion program, CSNSW is also looking at ways of incorporating technology into new correctional centres and expansions,’ the department said in a statement. It is incrementally rolling out technology but adopted a ‘cautious’ approach by prioritising community safety, the statement added”

21 April 2017 – Major News Outlets Report on Computers In Cells:

Following the media release on the 20th of April, a number of major news outlets covered the computers in cells issue. The story was covered on page 15 of the Daily Telegraph, as well as appearing digitally on 9News amongst other outlets. 

20 April 2017 – Community Justice Coalition Publishes Media Release “NSW Needs Computers In Cells:

The president of the Community Justice Coalition, The Hon John Dowd AO QC, publishes media release highlighting the importance of having computers inside prison cells, as well as criticising the NSW government for “dragging its feet” in relation to the issue. 

13 March 2017 – Justice Coalition receives Correspondence from Northern Territory Legislative Association:

Our friends at Community Justice Coalition received correspondence from Natasha Fyles of the Northern Territory Legislative Association, after she asked The Department of the Attorney-General and Justice to investigate its ability to support a web-based domestic violence program.

11 February 2016 – Correspondence from Secretary for the Premier:

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, Catherine Cusack, responded on Baird’s behalf, expressing her appreciation for JA’s proposal. She advised JA that the issues raised fall under the responsibility of David Elliot, the Minister for Corrections, and that JA’s letter would be forwarded respectively.

3 February 2016 – JA Contacts Mike Baird about Online Counselling Proposal:

JA sent a letter to Premier Mike Baird, requesting his urgent attention, support and acknowledgement of our online counselling proposal. JA urged Premier Baird to read the information provided.

14 January 2016 – Liaison with Acting Commissioner for Corrective Services NSW:

JA received an email from Acting Commissioner Luke Grant stating, “Corrective Services NSW considers an online counseling service would not be appropriate without adequate support and engagement with mental health staff.”

15 December 2015 – Proposal Rejected by the Legislative Council:

Received correspondence from Natasha Maclaren-Jones of the Legislative Council, informing us that online council servicing in prisons “falls outside the scope of the committee’s terms of reference for the inquiry into the security classification and management of inmates sentenced to life imprisonment.”

14 December 2015 – Liaison with Minister for Corrective Services:

Followed up on our legislative meeting by sending our counselling proposal to David Elliott, Minister for Corrective Services.  

23 November 2015 – Oral Presentation to the NSW Legislative Inquiry:

On Monday 23rd November 2015, Justice Action presented orally to the NSW Legislative Inquiry on the security classification and management of prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. The Committee’s terms of reference for the Inquiry refer to the provision of rehabilitative programs and services to lifers, and the need to report on the management of such people. We made a compelling written Submission that was universally acclaimed. During the Inquiry we put forward a proposal to introduce online counselling services in prisons for both “lifers” and all other prisoners. Justice Action offered to provide a free pilot online counselling service. This was rejected, on the grounds that ‘mental health staff in counselling is the only means of intervention’.

29 January 2015 – JA liaises with St. Vincent de Paul Society:

Justice Action sent their online services in prison cells proposal to John Falzon of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, our aim being to begin a relationship with a major national organisation.

27 October 2014 – Trial for Computers in Cells at South Coast Correctional Centre:

JA received an email from the Office of Hon Brad Hazzard MP that a trial of computers in cells at South Coast Correctional Centre would begin in November 2014. We were informed that computers in cells would expand to other prisons dependant on this trial. Mr Hazzard’s office also stated that in-cell connectivity was deemed cost ineffective in the majority of NSW prisons. 

14 July 2014 – Computers in Cells Proposal sent to Spokesperson for Justice and NZ MP:

JA sent a modified and expanded “Computers In Cells” proposal to Associate Spokesperson for Justice and New Zealand MP Raymond Huo. The twenty-three paged report focussed on online counselling in prison cells as a cost effective way to reduce crime. We received no response.

11 July 2014 – Proposal for Online Counselling in Cells sent to Corrective Services NSW:

In collaboration with anti-violence NGO Enough is Enough, JA designed another proposal for online counselling in cells. On this date it was sent to Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin. We received no response.

23 January 2014 – JA meets with Department of Corrective Services :

The Coordinator of JA and three team members held a meeting with Department of Corrective Services officials Luke Grant and Joy Gault. This was initiated after an email from Peter Severin dated 23rd December 2013, who suggested a consultation in relation to computer communication. Our meeting discussed strategies for implementing computers in prison NSW-wide, as well as potential costs and sources of funding. Meetings with Luke Grant continued throughout 2014, on May 2nd and July 29th.

17 December 2013 – iExpress launch of world first full service to detainees with a profile like FaceBook and email service. Launch YouTube. Defended responsible access to cyberspace against attacks by victims’ organisations and legislation, showing that it was of benefit to victims themselves and a human right.

8 December 2011 – Support from NSW Teacher’s Federation :

JA receives confirmation of support on their “Computer in Cells” proposal from the NSW Teachers Federation. 

16 November 2011 – Justice Action Produces Computers In Cells Implementation Strategy:

This draft implementation strategy outlines key focus areas as well as gauging support from key stakeholders including political parties. 

17 October 2011 – JA’s Responds to National Cultural Policy Proposal:

JA responds to Mr Simon Crean’s 2011 National Cultural Policy Proposal. The Proposal recommended, “…encourage the use of emerging technologies and new ideas that support the development of new artworks and the creative industries, and that enable more people to access and participate in arts and culture.” In reply, JA asked Mr Crean to adopt their “Computers in Cells” initiative, forwarding the February proposal of the strategy to Mr Crean himself.

25 February 2011 – Computers In Cells Receives Strong Support From The Greens Party:

David Shoebridge of The Greens pledges support for the computers in cells project. 

February 2011 – Follow-up to Paper Published:

JA follows up the discussion paper with a proposal paper for future distribution. It outlines the reduction in recidivism and benefits in inmate education and employability stemming from computers in cells.

25 November 2010 – ‘Computers in Cells’ Paper Published:

JA publishes ‘Computers into Cells’ Discussion Paper. The paper proposed the provision of computers in cells, noting the educational, legal, and social benefits, while showcasing successful examples in the ACT and Victoria. It also addressed Corrective Service’s concerns regarding illegitimate use and security issues, noting that these issues are easily solved by software packages such as PrisonPC, available at the time.

30 June 2006 – Committee for Project Established:

A project steering committee is established to ‘develop standards, processes and systems under which inmates will be granted controlled and secure access to computing technology.’ The project was aimed to ‘maximise the use of computing technology by inmates.’ It is said the project is to proceed in a staged’ manner. Corrective Services indicates their consideration of strategies to allow access to computers in cells, ‘particularly technology implementation at the new Wellington Correctional Centre and the proposed South Coast facility.’ 

November 2005 – Lobbying and Meetings:

JA works with Kingsford Legal Centre to begin lobbying government and corrective services for computer access in cells. Meetings are held with the Minister for Justice the Hon. Tony Kelly, and Corrective Services. 

5 April 2001 – Motion for Acceptance of Computers:

The Shadow Minister for Community Services passes a motion calling on the government ‘to accept donations of computers into New South Wales prisons from private donors, where these computers will be used to promote rehabilitation of inmates and to reduce the rate of recidivism.’ The Opposition found it ‘laughable’ that 113 surplus department computers are enough to satisfy the needs of 7,500 prisoners. They suggested that Corrective Services needed leadership who ‘understand that computers can help,’ and looked for solutions, not problems with proposals to introduce community computer donation schemes. They note their support of JA’s basic message that computers are required to ‘give inmates opportunities to become better people.’

13 September 1999 – Computers Revoked:

Commissioner of Corrective Services orders that donated computers be removed. The corrective services minister and the commissioner cite several reasons: the Inmate Private Property Policy, millennium bug compatibility, and the availability of hard copy education resources. It is suggested by Corrective Services that providing more computers will be done with their own surplus machines in a staged’ manner.

August to September 1999 – Donation of Computers:

JA delivers donated computers from community to jails for use in wings. Computers are initially accepted and some installed.

25 June 1998 – JA Proposes Computers in Cells:

JA proposes computer repair and return program in jails.

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